The 1st International Traditional and Complementary Medicine Congress opened in Istanbul yesterday.
Turkish and foreign scientists gathered for the four-day event held under the auspices of Health Ministry.
First Lady Emine Erdoğan, who is known for her personal support for traditional and complementary medicine, is the congress's honorary president.
Organizers said that they wanted to boost Turkey's position in the field, change the common perception on the issue and establish international collaboration in the development of traditional and complementary medicine.
Some 178 scientists from 30 countries and a number of representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) are attending the congress. The participants will discuss medical cases and recent developments in the field. A traditional medicine fair is also being held on the sidelines of the event, where different public agencies and nonprofit organizations will also showcase their work.
The congress will discuss topics like clinical cupping and case presentations, use of herbal products for medical purposes, medical music therapy practices, phytotherapy applications, acupuncture, ethics and legal perspective of traditional medicine and homeopathy.
In a keynote speech at the congress, First Lady Erdoğan said traditional and complementary medicine is not an alternative to modern medicine, rather, as its name imply, complementary.
"Medicine is as old as humanity but the problem is that modern medicine has severed its ties to the past and ignores this vast experience.
"The importance of the field has come back under the spotlight recently. Ignoring the tradition or belittling it is an outdated approach," she said, adding that the colonialist approach in the world "unfortunately saw the path to the future in ignoring the past of nations."
"This congress looks to remove hierarchy among civilizations, think of humanity's history as a whole while trying to understand Confucius and Avicenna, Aristotle and Hippocrates together. It is inspired by inviting wisdom, love and conscience back to the world ruled by a capitalist system," she said, adding that it was a valuable effort to have scientists from all around the world at the congress. "It will both put exploitation of the field under the spotlight and improve the scientific foundation of the field," Erdoğan said.
Turkey, which has carried out some landmark reforms in healthcare, from modern hospitals to easy access to healthcare services, launched its first serious approach in the field in 2012, when the Health Ministry inaugurated a department focused on traditional and complementary medicine. Standards and regulations were introduced to traditional medicine while medicine faculties at universities opened clinics.